2018 Winter Olympics (Pyeongchang, South Korea)

Winter is coming, oh wait just kidding! Winter is here and once every 4 years we get to experience something really exciting during winter! No not leap year, the Winter Olympics! Today marks 1 week since the Olympics started here in Pyeongchang, South Korea, so I wanted to share our trip to the 2018 Winter Olympics!

I had never really thought about attending the Olympics, I mean it’s pretty easy to watch from the comfort of your own home, but when we heard that the 2018 Winter Olympics were going to be held in Pyeongchang, Korea, we couldn’t help but start looking at ways to get tickets and to join in the festivities.

We were lucky enough to score “affordable” tickets to the opening ceremonies and picked up a tickets for a few other events.  But honestly lodging was hard to procure, transportation was uncertain and everyone who knows me understands my immense loathing of the cold. But I powered through all of these things and here’s how it was!

If you’re wondering what being at the Olympics is like, I’ll describe it in one word…. COLD! Okay, okay, other than being freezing, it was really amazing to see so many people from so many different nations coming together to cheer on their respective countries.

Everyone was very friendly and you could feel the enthusiasm buzzing throughout the events. The olympic events were split up between 2 areas, Gangneung (which is near the coast) and Pyeongchang (which is in the mountains). We first went to Gangneung and was immediately impressed with all of the large stadiums.

I was also super excited about the Superstore as I wanted to pick up some Olympics paraphernalia.  I normally am not into souvenirs, but seriously Soohorang (the tiger) and Bandabi (the bear) are just too darn cute!

Aside from the different events and shopping in both Pyeongchang and Gangneung, there are some houses like the Tokyo House (which features the fact that they will be the home of the 2020 Summer Olympics) and the Korea House (which features various Korean culture displays, including the opportunity to try on Korean traditional clothes (hanbok)) which are open to the public. Additionally, there are many other “displays” like the giant Coca-Cola machine! They actually have a giant coin and you put it in the machine and it will dispense Coca-Cola bottles!

Look a this Team Korea fan with his bottle of Coke!

The 2018 Winter Olympics officially started on 9 February 2018 with the Opening Ceremonies at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. This winter has been a particularly harsh one in my opinion and even though we had the hard to get opening ceremony tickets, I was secretly dreading being outdoors, I mean come on, why did they build an open air stadium for the Winter Olympics?!?

When PyeongChang had announced that they were going to provide all opening ceremony attendees with a “comfort kit,” I was slightly hopeful, until Scott read in the newspaper that their testing of the kits had resulted in “no one getting hypothermia.” A winning endorsement for what we were going to experience. You won’t get hypothermia, but you’ll be seriously cold…. After putting on many many layers, a long puffy coat and attaching hand, toe and body warmers to every square inch of our bodies (which included stuffing a few body warmers in my pants (hey there’s no shame when you might get frostbite), we braved the temperatures and headed out to the stadium.

The billowing flags outside the stadium did not instill confidence that we weren’t going to freeze to death…. When we finally arrived to our very high nosebleed seats, we just prayed warmth would somehow come our way. Luckily, the performances were engaging and we actually ended up having a pretty good time. I will say that the heat pack for the seat they provided never really got warm…. but I guess they tried. Plus they kind of packed us in like sardines, so +1 for body heat. I left the opening ceremonies mostly happy and with all fingers and toes intact.

The most amusing part of the Opening Ceremonies for me was that the crowd was pretty even keeled until figure skater, Yuna Kim came out, then it was pandemonium.  A few of the guys next to me were tripping over themselves (and me) trying to get closer to her.  I’m going to guess Yuna has a lot of suitors.

Although the Olympics touts itself as a non-political event, this year’s Olympics has been definitely getting a lot of attention for North Korean involvement.  While you were at the events, you couldn’t miss the hoards of North Korean “cheerleaders.” As you would expect, they looked deceivingly perfect (almost Stepford like) and had obviously been practicing their cheers, which they delivered in perfect harmony.  It was almost like they were the performance within the performance.

But don’t let the political undertones keep you from paying attention to what’s really important, you are witnessing athletes that can perform seriously amazing feats!

I can’t imagine the amount of training that they go through and some of the athletes really just have incredible and awe inspiring talent.  I will be continuing to watch the Winter Olympics from the warmth of my couch, and hope you enjoyed a glimpse into what it was like to actually go to Pyeongchang. GO TEAM USA!!!

Also, check out this video of our trip!

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